RETHINKING WHO I AM

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Identity. Whoever we think we are shapes our view of the world. It is a point of view. Point of viewing everything else. It is a controlling factor in how we make choices, what we grasp for, what we hold tightly to. It directs us. Blinds us. Makes us… or defeats us. So I need to think carefully about who I am.

I am not a homeschool mom.

Feels strange to write that.

I have homeschooled my kids for 18 years.

And I have loved homeschooling. When people asked how it was going, I would light up and say, “I’m learning so much! Oh, and my kids are doing great too….”

I used to read curriculum magazines for fun. And I made the most wonderful, lasting friendships in that community.

But lately, homeschooling wasn’t working as well for my family, and it was beginning to threaten my way of life.

It happened gradually. I just didn’t think my children were thriving. They were passing…but not becoming.

And so the “S” word became a topic of conversation. And prayer.

For several years in a row I prayed about School. My husband prayed. My mother prayed. My mother-in-law prayed. It just became a part of the fabric of my prayer life. “Lord, if school is the best thing for my kids….”

But it always stopped there. Once we visited a local Christian school. But that was it.

And so I began my school year last fall with this prayer: “Lord, I’m homeschooling again this year. (Surprise.) But Lord, if you know that school is really the right change for my children, please give me overwhelming wisdom.” That was my prayer. Overwhelming wisdom. I reasoned with God that a little wisdom wouldn’t get me there. My inner gravitational pull was toward homeschooling. I loved it. And I knew it. Only overwhelming wisdom could compel me to take a different direction.

That school year was a testimony to Overwhelming Wisdom.

It came in many ways, but this one was key.

It was One of Those Days. Kids were bickering. Lessons were limping. Even a belligerent No came from my children on that morning.

This isn’t working, fear gripped my heart.

I looked directly into the angry face of one of my children and thought, You are ruining my vision for my life.

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THE PRIESTHOOD OF MOTHERING

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“Now I know you are a mother,” my father says quietly as he watches me lean over my firstborn baby’s incubator the night before her heart surgery, whispering prayers and singing “Jesus Loves Me” in broken verse.

It wasn’t the decorated nursery or the nine months of anticipation or the little pink clothes folded neatly back home that had convinced him. It was the desperate petitions of a bewildered woman who had entered almost unknowingly into that Priestly Vocation of Motherhood.

Alan Cole, in his commentary on the book of Exodus, explains that a priest is someone set apart for a special relationship with God and for the service of God. A priest is to be both God’s representative for another person or people, and God’s representative to another person or people. He stands between heaven and earth, in a sense.

I think that being a Christian mother is an invitation to the Priesthood.

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RAISING A DAUGHTER WITH AUTISM: GRACE MIXED WITH GRIEF

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I see a blue and white comforter spread across my lap when I remember the beginning of this journey. How appropriate. Who knew that Blue would be the color of Autism Awareness Month so many years later….

I was waiting for the phone call. My husband had met with the surgeon the day before, and now he paced the sterile halls of Johns Hopkins Hospital waiting for word of how it had gone.

“We need to finish the heart surgery in 20 minutes. At 25 minutes, she will lose the function of her legs. At 30 minutes ….” He had informed us.

How we prayed! How we watched the clock tick by!

My sweet baby was only four days old. Five pounds was all she was, but every ounce was precious to us. We called her Grace.

We knew while I was pregnant that something wasn’t right. The day after she was born we met with a specialist who laid it out for us. Correctable heart defects now, possible kidney issues, hearing would probably be a concern. Oh, and growth and thyroid to watch for.

No one knew that autism would be added to the list, or that autism would end up being the biggest concern of all.

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STONES & SCORPIONS

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My daughter received some discouraging news yesterday. The friend she was hoping to room with is having second thoughts about where she wants to live for the next year. Which is fine, except Katherine was making her plans around community and friendship, and, well, it’s just another setback…disappointment.

Seems like there are just so many of those. Disappointments.

Don’t I know it. I remember throwing away about ten to fifteen prayer journals that went back YEARS because they were horrifyingly filled with the exact same prayer requests over and over again that were not answered. It was embarrassing! It was frightening.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I tried to lead my daughter in another brainstorming exercise of other possible job opportunities she could seek. Other locations. Other communities. But it came down to this: she was afraid. Afraid that once again it wasn’t going to work out. Afraid to be alone.

And I’m afraid for her and with her. Just so many prayer journals….

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